The exchange on the yahoo listserv has been quite informative.
First off, let me say that I respect those who support HDs difference of opinion, as I strongly disagree with it. Y’all have your own reasons for support, I have my own for not supporting certain HDs. Second, I believe in the marketplace of ideas, where the different sides present their arguments and evidence and let people judge for themselves. And lastly, let us acknowledge the subjectiveness of several terms that get bandied about in these things like expensive and burdensome. What is fine and not a problem for one person could be hard and disastrous for another.
Scott Roberts provided info about the fight against Brookland HD designation:
“Battle of the Vinyl Windows” by Jeff Horwitz, Washington City Paper, 8/5/05
“Brookland: Historical or Hysterical? Possible Designation Riles Brooklanders” by Elizabeth McGowan DC North August 2005
“Historic District Off the List“, DC North September 2005
Mentioned in the articles listed above was Carolyn Steptoe on the side against, who also has added to the Eckington list discussion. She mentioned that HD designation occurs in 3 phases and the process was in phase 3 when she learned of it. It appears the sampling of Brookland residents she queried knew nothing of any of the phases. Her statements also make me wonder about community input and awareness, which can go to the problem of communication, which can be difficult when dealing with different populations regardless of the issue.
A comment via the Bloomingdale listserv (which I’m not on) wandered on reading:
“The Historic Preservation Board may have advise on renovations, windows and doors, etc; however, what they suggest is not always what they will approve. They still have final approval of any and all exterior renovations to a historic dwelling. AND, if you have a door that lets out heat during the winter and A/C in the summer, you cannot just go to Home Depot and buy a door to replace the bad one. You must submit an application, get on the calendar (which usually takes one month or more) and sometimes submit drawings, pictures, and other documents, to help the Board with their decision. Even after all that, they still may not approve your door. So the simple task of changing a defective door, is not so easy anymore. Plus during the review process, your neighbors can attend the review meeting and “have their say” as to whether they like, or don’t like what your are doing to your house. If they express a negative opinion, the board can side with your neighbors and you must start again. Thus, the process for you to actually change your door becomes subject to the red-tape of the system. So it could take several months and even years to get your defective door replaced. The same process goes for any change you wish to make I.E. painting the exterior, replacing gutters, anything associated with the exterior. Having this designation is a double-edge sword. It will be good for keeping the architectural fabric of the neighborhood consistent, and will stop the unsightly 3rd floor additions, but will make simple tasks of keeping your home nice looking and efficient harder for everyone.”
And this last thought (as this post is getting long) there is an extra consideration one must take in. There are things you can do without a permit from DCRA such as installing window screens and storm windows; repairing exisiting fencing with like materials; painting (whether they mean interior or exterior it is not clear); brick pointing; replacing non-rated windows & doors; replacing roofing, siding and gutter and so on IF you don’t live in a historic district (see DCRA Permit Factsheet PDF).